What Can I Do with a PhD in Human Performance?

An athletic career can’t last forever, but human performance one of the most exciting career options for athletes (and anyone with an interest in the peak conditioning of the human body). Students with a doctorate in human performance can go on to become college-level educators in sports and exercise science, and they can also produce scholarly research papers to further our understanding of health. This is a good course of study for students who are interested in educating the public about health and advocating for exercise, health, and wellness.

Earning a Doctorate in Human Performance

A doctorate in human performance can help students learn about healthy eating habits, good nutrition and the benefits of various types of exercise. The Human Performance Doctorate usually also includes psychology courses to help students learn about human motivation and performance enhancement techniques. It can enable students to pursue careers helping people rehabilitate from injuries or illnesses where techniques for dealing with clients in a hands-on fashion will be a must.

Students need to obtain at least their bachelor’s with at least 18 hours of coursework in a related field. Afterward, they need to complete their master’s with the major of their choosing, though they will may to take specific prerequisite classes before entrance into the doctorate program is granted. Students can add specialties in kinesmetrics (the measuring of human performance), physical education (where they’ll teach others to be more active), and exercise sciences (which delves into metabolic function, biology, anatomy, and more).

To obtain his or her doctorate, a student will need to write a traditional dissertation (for a more academic PhD program), or do a research-based capstone project, which usually directly relates to their career goals. The dissertation is usually a long, written research project that must be defended orally to a committee; a lot of students find that intimidating, so no-dissertation doctoral programs are increasingly popular. A capstone, on the other hand, usually culminates in a shorter report and presentation. In many cases, a student will also need to complete a residency period during which he or she will work under supervised conditions doing human performance jobs.

Human Performance Jobs

Graduates can seek employment as an athletic trainer, and this human performance salary starts at $31,000, tops out at $56,000, and pays a median wage of $40,449 per year. Athletic trainers can find jobs working for schools and universities, sports teams, and advanced training centers. They can help athletes prepare for games, and they can give guidance on treating injuries as they occur.

After graduating, a person can become a personal trainer – a different role than the athletic trainer, as they work, predominately, with non-athletes and tend to be employed in fitness gyms and rehabilitation centers. The lowest salary for a personal trainer is $20,000, but with the right clientele pay could go as high as $98,000, and an average of $37,000.

Becoming a physical education teacher is another career route, and workers in this field earn between $30,000 and $69,000, with a median salary of $42,486 per year. It will be necessary to have a background in education, and students will need to enjoy working with young people, as teachers will work with elementary school-aged children up through teenagers and young adults in high school settings. The Human Performance PhD can be the equivalent of an EdD for physical education teachers and administrators.